mogget_cat: (pain)
Billy was impressed. He knew this guy was good, from his reputation, but still- seeing him perform live was a whole different experience. Felix White had been an unknown a few months ago, only recently coming into prominence through his memorable performances in the bars of the French Quarter. He hadn't even cut a CD yet, but Mr. Warren wanted to offer him a sponsorship deal... so here Billy was, the go-between finding himself mesmerized along with the rest of the audience while he waited for the end of the set so he might approach the bright figure on the small stage.

The owner of the bar didn't know Billy was here, or else Billy would have found himself thrown back out into the street an hour ago. Felix brought in crowds each weekend he performed, and the bar's owner would fight to keep from losing all that potential business. Billy was sure there was some fire safety code being broken, to judge from how tightly the bar was filled with people.

Of course, the bar owner didn't mind. It got hot when a lot of people gathered in a relatively small space. Hot people need drinks to keep cool.

Billy was sure that this bar didn't employ five bartenders on other nights of the week.

-*-*-*-

Felix seemed to be a smaller presence once he'd stepped down from the stage at the end of the evening. Billy noticed that he was still tall, but seemed thinner, less there once the music was over and he was surrounded by people all trying to talk to him at once. Most new indie musicians were overwhelmed at first by the thought that they had fans, but Billy was pleased to see that Felix seemed completely nonplussed, taking it in stride with a grin and a few words of easy conversation to each that approached him. A good sign for the go-between for the record company wanting to sponsor him.

Billy inwardly sighed with relief when Felix took the offer of a sponsorship deal with enthusiasm. His worry about whether or not Felix would agree to come to Baton Rouge to meet with Mr. Warren also proved to be unnecessarily.

Felix wasn't as attached to his image as an indie musician as some were.

-*-*-*-

Billy talked nearly constantly about the opportunities that would be available to Felix as they drove. He was kind of desperate not to lose this one, as the last three had not been nearly as open to offers, which... didn't do well for the stability of Billy's job. Felix seemed cheerful and attentive to just about every suggestion Billy had, for the most part, though he looked tired. Probably from his performance.

As they drove further from New Orleans, Felix' replies got fewer and less enthusiastic, which just made Billy feel the need to talk more. About the potential money, the better venues, the better equipment.

Felix eventually turned to nodding instead of replying. Soon after, his eyes closed. Billy drove on.

-*-*-*-

It was about forty miles from New Orleans, halfway to Baton Rouge, when Billy realized Felix wasn't answering any more. That his skin was rapidly growing colder. (Not paler, though; that wasn't really possible.) That he wasn't breathing.

Billy swerved to make the next exit, cursing. He needed to get this rising star, overdosed on on the drug of his choice, no doubt, to the hospital.

But by the time the car reached the New Orleans city limits, it was clear that Felix wouldn't make it to the hospital. His body was shutting down. There was no longer anyone there. Billy kept up a continuous stream of cursing; he couldn't afford to have had such a lucrative potential client fall dead in his car. He'd lose his job. He was still rebuilding from all the damage three years ago. Times were hard. His wife had lost her job just two weeks ago. He couldn't afford for this to have happened.

One of the darkened alleyways of the French Quarter, not far from the bar where Felix had played to such acclaim, served to hide the body. It would probably be mistaken as one of the sleeping homeless, at least until Billy could sell his bosses on the story that he had never made contact with Felix White that night. That he had missed him after the show, and didn't know where he had disappeared to.

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Yrael, the Eighth Bright Shiner

June 2016

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